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Flying From Wales To England By Fokker 100  
User currently offlineLXM83 From Switzerland, joined May 2005, 607 posts, RR: 5
Posted (1 year 11 months 2 weeks 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 9817 times:

TRIP REPORT

Flying from Wales to England by Fokker 100
18Jan12

Introduction


Sometime in November 2011, Helvetic (2L/OAW) - the Fokker 100 operator from Switzerland - announced that they will start flying to a new destination starting in December 2011: Bristol (BRS/EGGD). Knowing they had served Cardiff (CWL/EGFF) across River Severn from Zurich (ZRH/LSZH) for a while, I first thought that they would move their flights from CWL to BRS. But I was surprised to learn that they would be keeping CWL and combine it with BRS. Hmm, interesting, this would probably result in a triangle operation ZRH-CWL-BRS-ZRH or vice versa, I thought. They were at the same time advertising an introductory fare offer for the new destination BRS. Now this got my attention as there would be a rare opportunity to fly from Wales to England or vice versa. I was looking to book either ZRH-CWL-BRS or BRS-CWL-ZRH, depending on what the routing for this triangle would be. So when checking the schedules on their website, I was surprised again: Instead of a usual triangle operation ZRH-CWL-BRS-ZRH or vice versa they would operate ZRH-BRS-CWL-BRS-ZRH. This I understood only after writing the schedules down and checking multiple times. I could not believe it. (Well, even to this date I fail to understand it. Apparently, CWL was not doing so well, therefore the addition of BRS to the flight would make sense in order to catch a couple more passengers. But if a route is not doing so well it also means that costs must be low, this is why I don’t understand why 4 sectors instead of 3 sectors are scheduled.... anyway.) Of course the introductory fare was only available to/from BRS, therefore nullifying my intention to book something containing the BRS-CWL or CWL-BRS sector.... I was a bit disappointed. However a couple of days later, the low introductory fare suddenly was available to/from CWL, too! So I quickly decided on a date and booked CWL-BRS-ZRH for the nice price of CHF 88.30 (approximately GBP 60 / EUR 74) all included. I was happy to get two sectors for this price. Never after Helvetic came under new management in 2006 were they offering such low fares. Now I only needed to find a way to get to CWL for the 14:15 departure from there. This proved not so easy and I was contemplating flying the evening before to Manchester (MAN/EGCC), then going by train or rental car to Anglesey (VLY/EGOV) and then taking the Manx2 Do-228 from there to CWL. In the end, it just didn’t add up. Train schedules didn’t fit and rental car was way too expensive for a one-way. So I decided to make this just a daytrip, taking the Swiss International Air Lines (LX/SWR) morning flight from ZRH to Birmingham (BHX/EGBB). This would fit with a train from BHX airport station via New Street Station to Cardiff and from there on to Rhoose, from where a complimentary shuttle bus would go around the runway to the CWL terminal. It would also be operated by a Helvetic Fokker 100. So all three sectors on this trip would be on this rather old but fun-to-fly aircraft type! (Very nicely helping to keep the A320-family in check on my statistics spreadsheet...) So I was all set to go on the following itinerary:

http://i117.photobucket.com/albums/o46/LXM83/20120118_CWLBRSZRH/20120118_0001.gif
map generated by the Great Circle Mapper - copyright Karl L. Swartz

Flights

Date: 18Jan12
Route: Zurich (ZRH/LSZH) - Birmingham (BHX/EGBB)
Flight number: LX 420
Schedule (local times): ZRH 0715 - BHX 0805
Scheduled block time: 01:50
Airline/Operator: Swiss International Air Lines (LX/SWR) operated by Helvetic Airways (2L/OAW)
Aircraft type: Fokker 100
Registration: HB-JVG

50th flight on aircraft type 100, 9th flight on HB-JVG, 1318th flight overall


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Photo © Martin Woudstra
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Photo © Tsuyoshi Hayasaki - AroundWorldImages


The departure time meant an early wake-up call on this Wednesday morning. As usual I took my car to my workplace which is a 8 minute tram ride away from ZRH airport.


early morning action in ZRH

I went to check-in area 3 just above the train station where I presented my paper tickets and I got a boarding pass with a much desired window seat. After strolling through the landside shopping area and after stopping at the bakery for some nice cookies I made my to the newly built so-called “centralized security” building. Screening was done in an efficient manner and I was soon free to go through the duty-free shop to the gate.

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no, not a shopping mall but an airport...

The gate was on the lower-level non-Schengen area of the newly built B-pier. A first for me was using a bus gate from that area.

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entrance to the new B-pier, transfer desks on the right

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close-up of the transfer desks

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passport control to the non-Schengen D-gates downstairs

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my gate to BHX

The aircraft was parked in the “Fokker farm” next to a sibling from Contactair operating for LX. It was still dark but I managed a couple of just acceptable pictures while standing on the tarmac.

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boarding HB-JVG to BHX, the half moon is visible in the upper right corner

The flight was not full so I chose a window seat on the left just behind the wing. Seating is 2-3 abreast and the seat next to me remained free. We taxied to runway 28 and took off from there. During climb, I had a beautiful view of the dawn behind the Swiss Alps.

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Zurich down below is still in darkness

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a new day dawning behind the alps

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bye Switzerland - banking right towards France - nice mood with the moon

After leveling off, there were no views due to a compact cloud cover all the way to British archipelago. Service was a croissant with coffee or tea and a glass of water, enriched with a BYO cookie as desert from the airport bakery.

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breakfast

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cabin view, not a very busy flight

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fantastic legroom


traces of the former owner of this aircraft

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at cruising altitude

We descended into a cloudy, wet and grey BHX from southeast. Landing was on runway 33 and we were assigned the easternmost jetway and parked next to an Air France babybus.

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plunging back in the darkness again on final approach

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vacating the runway

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approaching the terminal building

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two babies.... BMIbaby and AF babybus...

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cabin view during disembarkment


nice seats

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“my” Fokker docked in BHX

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a couple of FR planes sitting idle

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baggage claim

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shiny new E-jets

Immigration was quick and having no baggage I was out quickly. To get to the train station, I took the people mover.

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arrival and departure screens in BHX, most interesting is the last departure of the day

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waiting for the people mover, actually a cable car

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cable car approaching

From BHX I had booked a specific train from BHX airport to Birmingham’s lovely New Street Station and from there on to Cardiff. I had to print out my tickets at a ticket machine which worked fine.

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railway ticket machines

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TIDS

As my flight was on-time I was quite early and I went to a train ticket booth to ask if it was ok to take an earlier train for the short ride to New Street Station. I showed them the ticket and even said it was for a specific train. They said no problem, just take any train. So that’s what I did and off I went. Well, of course the train conductor told me I did not have the right ticket and I was not allowed to take this train.... huh? I just enquired at the ticket booth and they told me it was ok. He did not want to have any of that and told me that he will exceptionally let me off the hook. I didn’t like that at all, why would I enquire and then be told off by the conductor.

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my ride to central Birmingham

Anyway after 15 minutes or so the train arrived. I was looking around the station for a while and I did not like what I saw. This train station is quite shabby and old. I went to look for my train to CWL which I found without problems.

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Birmingham New Street Station

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train departures from New Street Station, my train is the last one on the right

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my train to Cardiff

It was not full and I chose just any seat, despite having a seat reservation. Scheduled time to CWL was 1:57. I made myself comfortable for the ride. After reaching the bank of River Severn, the trip became quite picturesque - if only the weather would have been better. I passed one of the large suspension bridges passing over River Severn - to cross that river and it’s continuation - the Bristol Channel - I’d take the plane!

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a first glimpse of River Severn

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the river is getting wider, note the muddy river banks

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the second Severn suspension bridge (M4 motorway)

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crossing River Usk in Newport

The train arrived at Cardiff station on-time. The best way to describe this train station and the local trains running to and from there would be “quaint”. An outdated building and outdated trains made me feel like having traveled back in time.

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impressions of Cardiff’s main station


and a peek outside the station

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a Welsh language tongue breaker...

Soon my local train to Rhoose arrived an I boarded. The train was operating on-time but nevertheless painfully slow.

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more tongue breakers - Welsh version of a TIDS

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and my local train to Rhoose

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some modern buildings in Cardiff

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view over Bristol Channel.... sort of

After 30 minutes, we stopped at Rhoose Cardiff International Airport station. The shuttle bus was already waiting there and it turned out I was the only passenger. The trip was maybe 10 minutes, including a stop at a Holiday Inn Express airport hotel - the bus doubles up as the hotel-airport shuttle.

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local trains crossing at Rhoose

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Rhoose railway station scene, the platforms for each direction are on a different side of the road

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the shuttle from Rhoose to CWL is waiting

Date: 18Jan12
Route: Cardiff (CWL/EGFF) - Bristol (BRS/EGGD)
Flight number: 2L 443
Schedule (local times): CWL 1415 - BRS 1435
Scheduled block time: 00:20
Airline/Operator: Helvetic Airways (2L/OAW)
Aircraft type: Fokker 100
Registration: HB-JVH

51st flight on aircraft type 100, 1st flight on HB-JVH, 1319th flight overall


View Large View Medium
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Photo © Hans Domjan
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Photo © P R D Jones


After getting out of the bus, I experienced one of the stranger moments in my aviation life. The airport was fully operational, music was playing from the loudspeakers but not a single person could be seen! Not an employee, not any other passenger - nobody! It was a very surreal scene, it felt like an airport scene from Steven King’s “The Langoliers”. I checked out the check-in area and the separate arrivals area but there was nobody visible.

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Steven King’s ghost airport


advertisements for Helvetic - I definitely paid less than GBP 99 advertised here

http://i117.photobucket.com/albums/o46/LXM83/20120118_CWLBRSZRH/20120118_4834.jpg
the arrivals for the rest of the day...

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http://i117.photobucket.com/albums/o46/LXM83/20120118_CWLBRSZRH/20120118_4840.jpg
and two versions of FIDS, my flight showing BRS and ZRH, no other flights except mine in the next 1h 45 min

After making a couple of pictures inside the terminal I decided to go for a walk outside to see whether there were any views of the tarmac. There was a view, but without any planes. Out of sheer boredness and in search for my favourite drink - Coke Zero (I found none in the terminal) I walked to the Holiday Inn Express Hotel and back (no Coke Zero there either) in drizzling rain. Back at the terminal, I checked in (a single check-in desk was now open). But I did not encounter any fellow passengers. I was sort of surprised I got a seat assignment, I expected free seating on this multi-sector flight. After that, I went upstairs and I finally saw some other people. There’s a Burger King and a WHSmith, but unfortunately no views to the tarmac. I was spending time there until security opened.

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view towards the BA maintenance area

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empty tarmac


check-in counter

All in all the airport had not changed since my last visit back in June 2004 when I connected in CWL on the way from Toronto (YYZ/CYYZ) to ZRH using AirTransat and KLM (via AMS), but that is another story.... Security was a rather slow affair, but it didn’t matter as I had plenty of time. After security there is a waiting area with a couple of shops and a cafe at the far end, from where there was a limited view of the tarmac. My aircraft wasn’t there yet.

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departure lounge

The weather had gotten worse and visibility was quite low. I started to wonder whether the inbound flight could land in these conditions.... a couple of minutes later my fears turned out to be unfounded as my aircraft was now parked at the gate when I checked the window in the cafe again. There were only a handful of people in the waiting area. They announced boarding of the flight to ZRH only about 10 minutes before STD but the doors to the gates were still locked at that point. One passenger got quite nervous when she couldn’t get the door to the gate opened. She must have thought she had missed the flight with all the other passengers already on board.

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my aircraft somehow found it’s way through the miserable weather

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the doors to the gate remaining locked even after the boarding call...

Soon after the boarding call the doors were unlocked and I proceeded to the gate at the eastern end of the terminal. The aircraft was not docked so we had to walk outside a couple of metres.

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corridor to the last gate

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the only other aircraft parked at the terminal (as far as I could see....)

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always nice to walk up to an aircraft

Weather was still miserable and I was glad to enter the warm and dry aircraft cabin. I was greeted at the door and went to my seat in the rear part of the cabin. In the end, I counted a grand total of 7 passengers including myself! The nervous lady could be forgiven for thinking she missed the flight...

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the two-abreast left side of the cabin

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everybody on board!

We taxied to runway 30 for a take off to the west. The terminal was only faintly visible in the murk. When I booked this flight I was of course hoping for a scenic short, low-level hop from CWL to BRS and a nice view to the River Severn estuary and hopefully the bridges across it.... well, that was not to be. We were climbing through cloudy skies.

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taking-off - can you spot the terminal?

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grey grey grey

The aircraft leveled off soon after take-off and as far as I could tell we turned back towards the East to approach BRS from there. During this flight phase, we were between two cloud layers and from time to time a glimpse of the sea could be seen.

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some gaps in the clouds

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a faint view of Bristol Channel

http://i117.photobucket.com/albums/o46/LXM83/20120118_CWLBRSZRH/20120118_4880.jpg

There was no service on this sector. We descended through clouds again, only for a minute, there was some limited view to the ground. Final approach was in fog and we landed on BRS’s runway 27.

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aahh, a gap in the clouds - about the only one on this sector

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flaps set

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category II landing? or category III?

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all brakes deployed

Total airborne time was 33 minutes - much longer than anticipated! With a block time of 20 minutes, airborne time should be maybe 12-15 minutes. Fog in BRS was so bad that I never saw much of the terminal from the runway. Transit passengers to ZRH were asked to remain on board and of course nobody got off here. We were parked between an EasyJet A319 and a Ryanair B737-800.


my only glimpse of the terminal in BRS

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http://i117.photobucket.com/albums/o46/LXM83/20120118_CWLBRSZRH/20120118_4898.jpg
LCC neighbours

Date: 18Jan12
Route: Bristol (BRS/EGGD) - Zurich (ZRH/LSZH)
Flight number: 2L 441 (codeshared with 2L 443)
Schedule (local times): BRS 1510 - ZRH 1800
Scheduled block time: 01:50
Airline/Operator: Helvetic Airways (2L/OAW)
Aircraft type: Fokker 100
Registration: HB-JVH

52nd flight on aircraft type 100, 2nd flight on HB-JVH, 1320th flight overall


View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © HansAir
View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Martin Hartland


As we arrived about 20 minutes late, I expected a short turnaround. Dock the airplane, load the baggage of the joining passengers and board everybody, that’s my idea of a short turnaround. But it took some time until the new passengers joined the flight. I guessed about 25 passengers joined us in BRS, as far as I could tell it was mostly one group going to Switzerland for skiing. About 10 minutes late we taxied to runway 27 again. Visibility was still low, so I did not really see anything of BRS and it’s surroundings. Having stopped at BRS seemed a bit surreal to me.

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21 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineLXM83 From Switzerland, joined May 2005, 607 posts, RR: 5
Reply 1, posted (1 year 11 months 2 weeks 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 9818 times:

heading back to the runway

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runway 27 lit up like a Christmas tree

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soaring into the fog

During climb I could finally catch a glimpse of the Bristol Channel and across to the Welsh side. It was not much but at least something.

http://i117.photobucket.com/albums/o46/LXM83/20120118_CWLBRSZRH/20120118_4913.jpg
Bristol Channel, with River Usk flowing into it near Newport, Wales


Severn River estuary on top left

http://i117.photobucket.com/albums/o46/LXM83/20120118_CWLBRSZRH/20120118_4917.jpg
bay near Clevedon

After leveling off, the crew started with the service. Everybody got a refreshing towel, everything else was BOB. I didn’t buy anything - I finally managed to get a Coke Zero from the WHSmith after security, plus I had some homemade ham and butter sandwiches with me. I spent time with reading my OAG Pocket Flight Guide - collecting ideas for my next trip.

http://i117.photobucket.com/albums/o46/LXM83/20120118_CWLBRSZRH/20120118_4921.jpg
seemingly the only bit of sunshine on this day...

http://i117.photobucket.com/albums/o46/LXM83/20120118_CWLBRSZRH/20120118_4922.jpg
cabin service has just started


refreshing towel

http://i117.photobucket.com/albums/o46/LXM83/20120118_CWLBRSZRH/20120118_4927.jpg
BOB menu

http://i117.photobucket.com/albums/o46/LXM83/20120118_CWLBRSZRH/20120118_4926.jpg
on board shopping catalogue, nice 3D impression


and the safety card

Soon descent already started. Again I had a fine view of the Swiss Alps, this time with sunset mood lighting.

http://i117.photobucket.com/albums/o46/LXM83/20120118_CWLBRSZRH/20120118_4929.jpg
Swiss Alps coming into view again, a sure sign I will be home soon

http://i117.photobucket.com/albums/o46/LXM83/20120118_CWLBRSZRH/20120118_4936.jpg
with the tail spot lights on

http://i117.photobucket.com/albums/o46/LXM83/20120118_CWLBRSZRH/20120118_4940.jpg
Rhine river, the German city of Waldshut in the foreground

We landed on runway 14 and taxied the short way across runway 10/28 to the “Fokker farm”, where we parked on-time.

http://i117.photobucket.com/albums/o46/LXM83/20120118_CWLBRSZRH/20120118_4948.jpg
ZRH’s E-pier

Of course as this was a non-Schengen arrival I had to pass through immigration. For a couple of years, the Swiss immigration officers are not content any more with just waving Swiss national through - no instead they scan each and every ID card before letting you through, which makes the whole process a bit slower. Actually, this has become one of my pet peeves..... I wish we had a bit more of Schengen. After that a quick run to the tram station to get my car at work and home again for dinner!


my flight from CWL and BRS taking 4 lines on the baggage delivery screen

Conclusion

I hadn’t flown Helvetic since their aircraft have been painted in the rather boring red and white LX lookalike scheme. In fact they have become a completely different company and I wanted to see for myself how. Crews were friendly but not overly so. Certainly a solid performance. On flight operated for LX you get the same product as on LX flights. On flights operated under their own flight numbers, you only get buy-on-board.

My anticipation of a scenic low-level hop from Wales to England did not fulfill itself. It was a rather strange flight mostly in clouds with nothing to see.... that was a pity. But I added one new airport to my portfolio - BRS - and a UK domestic sector operated by a Swiss airline. As a fan of strange routes, this made me happy of course.

Next Trips

Well, I’m still trying to clear a backlog of trip reports - so to give me a break I’m not announcing any new flying adventures. I don’t want to promise something I won’t be able to deliver. Still to be written are a report on an inaugural flight by Darwin Airline back in January and a trip to Russia covering a Sukhoi Superjet, and three different Russian built tri-jets back in March. Stay tuned.

By the way: The announced fifth-freedom flight from ZRH to MXP unfortunately did not materialize, as Oman Air (WY/OMA) did not have traffic rights on that A330 sector despite having had this route published in the reservation systems and schedule guides without any traffic rights restrictions. I knew it was a gamble but alas it wasn’t to be.

Previous Trip Reports

You will find my previous trip reports here:

Dec 2011: Flying From Braunschweig To Catch The Tu-134
Dec 2011: Longest RJ & Longest Widebody: ZRH-MAD-LHR-ZRH
Nov 2011: 6 Legs, 6 Carriers, 6 Types, 1 Inaugural: BRN-BEG
Aug 2011: The rarest Embraer RJ, twice in a row? Not quite!
Jul 2011: A340 Switzerland-Germany To Meet Trip Reporters
Jun 2011: Not A LOT Longer: The Embraer 175 & Props @ RIX
May 2011: The People’s Way: ZRH-VIE-ACH
Mar 2011: Manx2: Dornier 228 And Let 410 In One Day!
Jan 2011: The Dornier 328Jet from MUC to DLE
Dec 2006: AY to Japan & domestic flights & visiting Santa Claus
Mar 2006: Cubana Il-62, Yak-42, An-24 & Belize & Guatemala

Many thanks for reading this report and looking forward to your comments!
LXM83


User currently offlinegabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 3037 posts, RR: 12
Reply 2, posted (1 year 11 months 2 weeks 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 9555 times:

Nice report. I saw that helvetic had started this route, but never investigated it. I checked the prices just now and they seem quite expensive.

Quoting LXM83 (Thread starter):
So that%u2019s what I did and off I went. Well, of course the train conductor told me I did not have the right ticket and I was not allowed to take this train.... huh? I just enquired at the ticket booth and they told me it was ok. He did not want to have any of that and told me that he will exceptionally let me off the hook. I didn%u2019t like that at all, why would I enquire and then be told off by the conductor.

Ha, that's England for you. There's no leeway when it comes to the advance tickets, as the companies make so much money fining people for taking the wrong train. It was bad of the ticket booth staff to say yes, when they should know it's a no

Quoting LXM83 (Thread starter):
Weather was still miserable and I was glad to enter the warm and dry aircraft cabin. I was greeted at the door and went to my seat in the rear part of the cabin. In the end, I counted a grand total of 7 passengers including myself! The nervous lady could be forgiven for thinking she missed the flight...

Wow, that's a low load

Quoting LXM83 (Reply 1):
runway 27 lit up like a Christmas tree

Very pretty. Shame it meant that there were no nice views



http://my.flightmemory.com/shefgab Upcoming flights: LHR-JMK,JTR-LHR-WAW,MSQ-FRA-EZE,IGR-EZE-CUN,MEX-FRA-LCY,LHR-TXL-LHR
User currently offlineKnightsofmalta From Malta, joined Nov 2005, 1693 posts, RR: 18
Reply 3, posted (1 year 11 months 2 weeks 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 9324 times:

Hi LXM83

Cool report on quite an exotic route! I was already starting to wonder when somebody was going to take me out of my misery and post a report! In any case, the pictures of the climb out over Zurich and the Alps at sunset on your return are lovely. There's something very poetic about them.

As for the Helvetic flight from Cardiff, that must have felt quite bizarre. A nearly empty aircraft flying from a nearly completely deserted airport in the thick fog. Sound like the plot for a murder mystery or something.

Quoting LXM83 (Thread starter):
(Very nicely helping to keep the A320-family in check on my statistics spreadsheet...)

Yeah, I know what you mean. With me it's the RJ100. Do you use any online tools to keep track of your flights? I use flugstatistik.de which isn't bad.

Quoting LXM83 (Thread starter):
50th flight on aircraft type 100, 9th flight on HB-JVG, 1318th flight overall

1318 flights? I'm impressed I have to say. How did you manage that?

Quoting LXM83 (Reply 1):
By the way: The announced fifth-freedom flight from ZRH to MXP unfortunately did not materialize, as Oman Air (WY/OMA) did not have traffic rights on that A330 sector despite having had this route published in the reservation systems and schedule guides without any traffic rights restrictions. I knew it was a gamble but alas it wasn’t to be.

That really is too bad. But there's always the Qatar Airways flight to Stuttgart, although I'm not sure they have traffic rights for that one either.

Thanks for posting. I'm looking forward to reading about your Russian exploits and Darwin.

Cheers,
William


User currently offlineSunfly From UK - Wales, joined Apr 2012, 10 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (1 year 11 months 2 weeks 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 9207 times:

Nice report. Thats UK trains for you, poor service, misinformation all on old trains. Though CrossCountry has one of the nicer products on the train from Nottingham to Cardiff via Birmingham.

Sad to see so few passengers in my local airport. bmibabys departure has really caused prblems for the airport in terms of passenger numbers. Im also very suprised that Helvetic have operated this route for so long, I dont think the average monthly load has ever gone above 30.


User currently offlinesignol From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2007, 2985 posts, RR: 8
Reply 5, posted (1 year 11 months 2 weeks 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 8794 times:

Hi LXM83,

nice report! And an interesting way to get there as well - BHX being my local airport whilst at university, even though I lived there for 3 years I only flew out of it twice.

Does Helvetic have free breakfast and BOB at other times then?

Don't worry about our rail system, no one company seems to know what the other ones are doing... Usually, if the train was a local one (it was called Centro when I was there) there probably wouldn't have been a guard anyway.

Cardiff airport does look, well, deserted. And a lot bigger than I imagined. Traffic levels seem similar to my local, NWI.

I wonder if it is possible to buy a ticket CWL-BRS and vice versa? It doesn't look bookable on the Helvetic website.

Thanks again

signol



Flights booked: none :(
User currently offlinealespesl From Czech Republic, joined Jan 2004, 582 posts, RR: 2
Reply 6, posted (1 year 11 months 2 weeks 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 8429 times:

Quoting LXM83 (Thread starter):
date and booked CWL-BRS-ZRH for the nice price of CHF 88.30 (approximately GBP 60 / EUR 74) all included.

Hi,
great TR and very good value for this ticket. May I know where did you manage to book one-way flight for such a low price?

I am tempted to do similar trip.
Thx
Ales

[Edited 2012-05-10 02:22:04]


Next Flight: Oct 10: PRG-MUC-KIV EMB 195/CRJ 900, Oct 12: KIV-MUC-PRG CRJ900/EMB 195 wiht Lufthansa
User currently offlinenef From UK - Scotland, joined Jul 2011, 13 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (1 year 11 months 2 weeks 1 day ago) and read 8136 times:

Quoting Sunfly (Reply 4):
Im also very suprised that Helvetic have operated this route for so long, I dont think the average monthly load has ever gone above 30.

I have to say I've wondered the same. The CAA stats and any reports I've heard suggest v low pax numbers and even adding BRS into the routing (which must add a bit in terms of costs) doesn't seem to have improved the situation that much. From the fares I've seen I don't get the impression that the low loads are likely to be being offset by a high yields either.

We've all seen airlines drop far better patronised routes in less than half the time, so it really is a bit of a puzzle for me as to why Helvetic persist with this route. Are they receiving some kind of backhanded subsidy from the Welsh Government or is there something in the backgroud that keeps them flying this route? No offence to CWL, but there are a fair few other UK airports with no/limited service to ZRH that could probably generate a lot more traffic to ZRH, such as EDI, GLA or NCL.


User currently offlineFLIEGER67 From Germany, joined Sep 2003, 5012 posts, RR: 55
Reply 8, posted (1 year 11 months 2 weeks 19 hours ago) and read 7864 times:

Hoi, J.,

now that´s for sure a strange routing.
Flying domestic between two parts of the UK on an Swiss registered aircraft, sure interesting.
Really good to follow you´re impressions about Cardiff. Also something what I am looking for, or maybe Wales itself.
I´am interested around you´re other stories, tell me more about it.

Greetings.
Markus(FLIEGER67)



Next: Is there something new for the new countries?.
User currently offlineWidebodyroga From United States of America, joined Sep 2008, 611 posts, RR: 16
Reply 9, posted (1 year 11 months 2 weeks 11 hours ago) and read 7652 times:

Your excellent report took me back a few years LXM83. I went to college in Wales (albeit in the north of the country) so all these photos of Welsh signs made me somewhat melancholic.

What a great opportunity to fly CWL-BRS. Too bad that the weather didn't help you enjoy the flight views as much as you would have liked.

Quoting LXM83 (Thread starter):
a Welsh language tongue breaker...

You gotta love the welsh language...

Quoting LXM83 (Thread starter):
some modern buildings in Cardiff

Ah, the mighty Millenium Stadium. A true gem for the city of Cardiff.

Quoting LXM83 (Thread starter):
the arrivals for the rest of the day...

OMG, there are flights to/from Anglesey now? Why did these routes not exist when I used to live there? I just checked their prices at Manx2 and they are extremely affordable...   


Anyway, I've gone off-topic with this. Thank you for sharing this report with us. Diolch yn fawr!

WBodyroga

[Edited 2012-05-10 19:56:36]


Visit my aviation page: http://widebodyroga.weebly.com/
User currently offlinelychemsa From United States of America, joined Oct 2009, 1066 posts, RR: 3
Reply 10, posted (1 year 11 months 2 weeks 7 hours ago) and read 7533 times:

There does not seem to be much demand for these routes.

User currently offlineSultanils From Belgium, joined Mar 2010, 1576 posts, RR: 30
Reply 11, posted (1 year 11 months 2 weeks 7 hours ago) and read 7507 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Hello LXM83,

Nice story and flight setup! Only a pity about the weather, but still an interesting experience overall. The people at Helvetic certainly think out-of-the-box with this Cardiff-Bristol flight. Let’s ee how long it will last.

Quoting LXM83 (Thread starter):
I made my to the newly built so-called “centralized security” building.

Do you mean the one with the facilities on the ground and 1st floor. Been there some weeks ago as well... on the upper floor  

Quoting LXM83 (Thread starter):
The aircraft was parked in the “Fokker farm”

Now where did you get that from  

Quoting LXM83 (Thread starter):
fantastic legroom

Same opinion here, the cabin in those F’s is really comfy.

Quoting LXM83 (Thread starter):
He did not want to have any of that and told me that he will exceptionally let me off the hook. I didn’t like that at all, why would I enquire and then be told off by the conductor.

Not good at all! Did you file a complaint as such?

Quoting LXM83 (Thread starter):
An outdated building and outdated trains made me feel like having traveled back in time.

Still, it has a nice and relaxed feel to it.

Quoting LXM83 (Thread starter):
Schedule (local times): CWL 1415 - BRS 1435
Scheduled block time: 00:20

That must be the shortest European scheduled flight in the books?

Quoting LXM83 (Thread starter):
The terminal was only faintly visible in the murk. When I booked this flight I was of course hoping for a scenic short, low-level hop from CWL to BRS and a nice view to the River Severn estuary and hopefully the bridges across it.... well, that was not to be.

Don’t you just hate that... Makes a window seat useless ha ha ha!

Quoting LXM83 (Thread starter):
Total airborne time was 33 minutes - much longer than anticipated! With a block time of 20 minutes, airborne time should be maybe 12-15 minutes.

That’s a bad performance, maybe 20 min is a bit too optimistic...

Quoting LXM83 (Thread starter):
runway 27 lit up like a Christmas tree

Nice shot.

Quoting LXM83 (Thread starter):
I spent time with reading my OAG Pocket Flight Guide - collecting ideas for my next trip.

Interesting literature. Your fellow passengers must have thought you were some kind of plane geek  

Quoting LXM83 (Thread starter):
and a trip to Russia covering a Sukhoi Superjet

You actually logged one? Wow, I’m on the lookout for that one!

Sultanils



In thrust we trust.
User currently offlinePlaneHunter From Germany, joined Mar 2006, 6643 posts, RR: 78
Reply 12, posted (1 year 11 months 1 week 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 6928 times:

Hi LXM83,

very interesting report! Good to see the ZRH-BHX route covered - I should be on the BHX-ZRH flight in June. I'm a but disappointed about the F100 LCC-style interior, though.

Quoting LXM83 (Thread starter):
shiny new E-jets

One of these should fly me into BHX on the journey mentioned...

Quoting LXM83 (Thread starter):

By the way: The announced fifth-freedom flight from ZRH to MXP unfortunately did not materialize, as Oman Air (WY/OMA) did not have traffic rights on that A330 sector despite having had this route published in the reservation systems and schedule guides without any traffic rights restrictions. I knew it was a gamble but alas it wasn’t to be.

That's too bad. But you should try that excellent carrier on a longer flight anyway. It's one of my personal top 5 carriers (I have no specific no.1/2/3/4/5).


PH



Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
User currently offlineFlyingFinn76 From Finland, joined Jun 2009, 1706 posts, RR: 31
Reply 13, posted (1 year 11 months 1 week 6 days 2 hours ago) and read 6824 times:

Hi J,

Seeing that title I first thought you were flying from Wales to England via ZRH, that would've been great - but this short(-ish) hop over the Severn sure qualifies as a more interesting way. Shame about no views and the weather - but that's the UK for you so what can you do. Very nice for you to manage to fly a Helvetic Fokker on the outbound as well instead of a boring LX Airbus or a little less boring Avro.

I've always wondered why does Helvetic serve Cardiff and now Bristol too, can't really see where the demand comes from and the loads on your flights certainly strengthen my suspicious. Maybe if they codeshared with LX they could pick up some feeder traffic for the Swiss network but this doesn't appear to be the case...

CWL reminds me of a smaller version of BFS. But it looks so amazingly deserted - not very good news for the airport operator I guess. Must be a rather spooky feeling being there (seemingly) all alone. That happened to my in Torsby, Sweden last October but then again that is a much much smaller airport and it was all a rather nice feeling - there were free sandwiches and coffee to eat and drink and a tv and wifi to enjoy and a comfy sofa to lie down so I really enjoyed it for an hour or so until (a few) people started arriving...

I should really go back to Bristol some day, was there back in 2004 I think, flew my first flight with easyJet back then on CPH-BRS-CPH and really liked the city a lot.

That Anglesley - Cardiff flight has also been on my planning table for a long time, together with a visit to Wales for some tongue twister photos but the same old story... too many plans, too little time... Some day.

Quoting LXM83 (Thread starter):
50th flight on aircraft type 100, 9th flight on HB-JVG, 1318th flight overall

Hmm, you're still around 100 ahead of me. Or this was the situation back in Feb, so I guess you are now some 200 ahead?   Need to do some catching up, only 90 flights booked for the rest of the year at the moment...

Quoting Sultanils (Reply 11):
That must be the shortest European scheduled flight in the books?

Nope, remember that the world's shortest commercial scheduled flight is also within Europe!

Quoting lychemsa (Reply 10):
There does not seem to be much demand for these routes.

Is that all you have to say? Nothing about the report at all?


User currently offlineLXM83 From Switzerland, joined May 2005, 607 posts, RR: 5
Reply 14, posted (1 year 11 months 1 week 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 6678 times:

Hello guys

Thanks for so much feedback already! Keep it coming.

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 2):
I checked the prices just now and they seem quite expensive.

Hello gabrielchew!
Well, that's why I haven't flown them since 2006. They charge high fares, only this year I saw some reasonable fares appearing (e.g. on BRN-CTA, BRN-OLB, BRN-BDS) and on the CWL-BRS run (but that was for a limited time only).

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 2):
It was bad of the ticket booth staff to say yes, when they should know it's a no

Yes, really annoying. Anyway I didn't have to pay a fine.

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Reply 3):
As for the Helvetic flight from Cardiff, that must have felt quite bizarre. A nearly empty aircraft flying from a nearly completely deserted airport in the thick fog. Sound like the plot for a murder mystery or something.

Hi, Knightsofmalta. This exactly reflects my mood on this day.

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Reply 3):
Do you use any online tools to keep track of your flights?

I keep my own log in Excel, but also try to list my flights on line. I like those best:
1) www.flugstatistik.de / www.flightmemory.com = Very nice as it allows you to input any data in the formats you like and doesn't require any adherence to any database entries (such as airline codes)
2) www.openflights.org = difficult to enter data as you like it, but ok when imported from flightmemory.com. But I like the filtering and map features
3) www.ba97.com/ba97/calendar/ = carrier list not up to date, but still possible to override missing carriers by using ?? instead of the IATA code and then entering the Carrier/Flightnumber both into the flight number field
4) www.airfleets.net = only usable for aircraft types supported by this site, but great for looking at the history of the aircraft you've flown on (and discovering that you already flew on it with a previous identity)
Naturally I will never depend on those systems and will always use Excel (with back-up copies everywhere) but it's fun to update and share on the above mentioned sites.

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Reply 3):
1318 flights? I'm impressed I have to say. How did you manage that?

Combination of being an airline employee, airplane geek and being 10 years older than I like  
Plus lots of BSL-ZRH-BSL flights (when they still existed) to go to meetings of two airlines working together closely (when they still existed).

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Reply 3):
But there's always the Qatar Airways flight to Stuttgart, although I'm not sure they have traffic rights for that one either.

Unfortunately no traffic rights. I was hoping they will apply for it as they have done between OTP and BUD (when this route still existed).

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Reply 3):
I'm looking forward to reading about your Russian exploits and Darwin.

Please bear with me for a while. 50% of the Russian report already exists, but that doesn't mean I'm close to finishing it as it covers 9 segments.

Quoting Sunfly (Reply 4):
Though CrossCountry has one of the nicer products on the train from Nottingham to Cardiff via Birmingham.

Thanks for reading, Sunfly. Actually the train from BHX to CWL was absolutely fine and on-time.

Quoting Sunfly (Reply 4):
Im also very suprised that Helvetic have operated this route for so long, I dont think the average monthly load has ever gone above 30.

Yes, well I'm surprised too.

Quoting signol (Reply 5):
Does Helvetic have free breakfast and BOB at other times then?

Hi signol. No, the first sector ZRH-BHX was operated as a wet-lease for Swiss International Air Lines and therefore had the Swiss product. CWL-BRS-ZRH is a pure Helvetic flight and has their own product.

Quoting signol (Reply 5):
I wonder if it is possible to buy a ticket CWL-BRS and vice versa?

No, not possible as the flight is published without traffic rights on the intra-UK sectors. Would be nice though.

Quoting alespesl (Reply 6):
May I know where did you manage to book one-way flight for such a low price?

Hello alespesl. Simply booked it on the Helvetic website when they had the special introductory fares available.

Quoting alespesl (Reply 6):
I am tempted to do similar trip.

I can recommend it, and there are high chances the weather will be better (couldn't be much worse, could it?).

Quoting nef (Reply 7):
From the fares I've seen I don't get the impression that the low loads are likely to be being offset by a high yields either.

Dear nef, I'm under the same impression.

Quoting nef (Reply 7):
so it really is a bit of a puzzle for me as to why Helvetic persist with this route.
Quoting nef (Reply 7):
Are they receiving some kind of backhanded subsidy from the Welsh Government or is there something in the backgroud that keeps them flying this route?

I'm assuming there is some sort of subsidy or discount from either the regional governments or the airports. That's how things are usually done when airlines try to start marginal new routes.

Quoting nef (Reply 7):
No offence to CWL, but there are a fair few other UK airports with no/limited service to ZRH that could probably generate a lot more traffic to ZRH, such as EDI, GLA or NCL.

Absolutely true. I'm stunned every summer season that there is not more capacity on the EDI-ZRH route. This could have been a gold mine for BD (too late now...) if they had used a 319 instead of the ER4 from Friday to Monday in the peak (by for example downgrading an EDI-LHR-EDI rotation to an ER4 during the low business summer months.

Could be a gold mine for anyother airline (such as Helvetic) too, although highly seasonal.

Quoting FLIEGER67 (Reply 8):
Flying domestic between two parts of the UK on an Swiss registered aircraft, sure interesting.

Hello M., thanks a lot for reading! Yes, an absolutely unique flight.

Quoting FLIEGER67 (Reply 8):
I´am interested around you´re other stories, tell me more about it.

Ok, I will, but give me some time.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Reply 9):
Too bad that the weather didn't help you enjoy the flight views as much as you would have liked.

Thanks for reading, Widebodyroga! I think it couldn't have been much worse, but I still enjoyed the short hop simply for its uniqueness and enigne noise...

Quoting Widebodyroga (Reply 9):
OMG, there are flights to/from Anglesey now?

Yes, twice daily Mon-Fri. Subsidised by the Welsh government.

Quoting Sultanils (Reply 11):
The people at Helvetic certainly think out-of-the-box with this Cardiff-Bristol flight.

Hello Sultanils, yes, that's one nice way to put it.

Quoting Sultanils (Reply 11):
Do you mean the one with the facilities on the ground and 1st floor.

Yes. Actually it has four floors, the top and lowest floors are used during peak times.

Quoting Sultanils (Reply 11):
Now where did you get that from

Hmm...

Quoting Sultanils (Reply 11):
Not good at all! Did you file a complaint as such?

Nope, since I wasn't fined I let it go. Better investing my time in writing trip reports for a.net.

Quoting Sultanils (Reply 11):
That’s a bad performance, maybe 20 min is a bit too optimistic...

I think it could be done in VMC conditions.

Quoting Sultanils (Reply 11):
You actually logged one?

Yes, I did. ARN-SVO in March. Report coming in a while.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 12):
I'm a but disappointed about the F100 LCC-style interior, though.

Hi PlaneHunter. Actually I like that interior, it looks quite roomy and the legroom ist the best.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 12):
But you should try that excellent carrier on a longer flight anyway.

Agree, that would be nice.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 13):
Seeing that title I first thought you were flying from Wales to England via ZRH,

Hello P. Actually that's what I thought people could think when they'd read the title.... It wasn't a very well thought through title.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 13):
Very nice for you to manage to fly a Helvetic Fokker on the outbound as well instead of a boring LX Airbus or a little less boring Avro.

It was a no-Airbus day. Actually I envy you Finns being able to jump on a 717 any time and to anywhere you please!

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 13):
Maybe if they codeshared with LX

Would absolutely help. But I think LX isn't interested in this funny and less than daily ops. They only codeshare on the daily ZRH-BRI route with 2L.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 13):
That happened to my in Torsby

Remember that trip report well.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 13):
too many plans, too little time

Ahh, nothing to add...

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 13):
Hmm, you're still around 100 ahead of me. Or this was the situation back in Feb, so I guess you are now some 200 ahead? Need to do some catching up, only 90 flights booked for the rest of the year at the moment...

You'll catch me this year for sure. Even with that ridiculously low number of 90 flights to come  

Cheers, LXM83


User currently offlineMSS658 From Belgium, joined Oct 2010, 2472 posts, RR: 15
Reply 15, posted (1 year 11 months 1 week 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 6639 times:

HI LXM83

Wonderfull report, thanks for sharing it with us! Nice to see the Helavatic F100!
I always find them classy
Great to see a route like CWL-BRS as well, did not know of this one.

Greetings
Marc



Next trip report: Well worn A330s and Hassle free MUC transfer
User currently offlineLXM83 From Switzerland, joined May 2005, 607 posts, RR: 5
Reply 16, posted (1 year 11 months 1 week 6 hours ago) and read 6146 times:

Hi MSS658

Thanks for reading!

Quoting MSS658 (Reply 15):
Great to see a route like CWL-BRS as well, did not know of this one.

It's quite an odd route and not one that you can book as such...

Best regards, LXM83


User currently offlinedeltamartin From Sweden, joined Dec 2010, 1061 posts, RR: 7
Reply 17, posted (1 year 11 months 3 days 22 hours ago) and read 5774 times:

Hello LXM83!

Nice report!
Good to see you had some nice flights on Helvetic F100's. I should really try to log a F70 or F100 before they are gone from our skies!
The cabin on the first F100 sure looked old-fashioned. But still nice and comfy.

Martin


User currently offlineadamspotter From Netherlands, joined Feb 2011, 1110 posts, RR: 3
Reply 18, posted (1 year 11 months 3 days 21 hours ago) and read 5724 times:
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Hi LXM83,
Nice report! Good idea too catch this "strange" CWL-BRS route, too bad about the weather though  
Quoting LXM83 (Thread starter):
During climb, I had a beautiful view of the dawn behind the Swiss Alps
Quoting LXM83 (Thread starter):
After reaching the bank of River Severn, the trip became quite picturesque

Nice pictures!

Quoting LXM83 (Thread starter):
Not an employee, not any other passenger - nobody

wow, "ghost" airport fits it perfectly like you said, must feel quite weird

Quoting LXM83 (Thread starter):
In the end, I counted a grand total of 7 passengers including myself!

Quite a light load!

Thanks for sharing

cheers,
adamspotter // Brendan


User currently offlineinfodesk From Switzerland, joined May 2006, 1424 posts, RR: 33
Reply 19, posted (1 year 10 months 4 weeks 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 5286 times:

Hi LXM83,

Thank you for writing a report about this route. It would be a unusual one to fly, although I've only looked into it briefly. The question is how much longer will it operate, the loads I've seen have never been good and your report confirms this.

I'm impressed with your pictures of Cardiff station, such a lovely building.

Quoting LXM83 (Thread starter):
they would operate ZRH-BRS-CWL-BRS-ZRH. This I understood only after writing the schedules down and checking multiple times. I could not believe it. (Well, even to this date I fail to understand it.

I certainly didn't realise this and it doesn't seem to make much sense.

Quoting LXM83 (Thread starter):
So all three sectors on this trip would be on this rather old but fun-to-fly aircraft type! (Very nicely helping to keep the A320-family in check on my statistics spreadsheet...) So I was all set to go on the following itinerary:

The whole day on Fokkers, not easy to achieve, well done. Lucky you catching JVH on the return, still missing here.

Quoting LXM83 (Thread starter):
51st flight on aircraft type 100, 1st flight on HB-JVH, 1319th flight overall

Very impressive!

Quoting LXM83 (Thread starter):
the arrivals for the rest of the day...

Anglesey? Never knew they had flights!

Quoting LXM83 (Thread starter):
Soon descent already started. Again I had a fine view of the Swiss Alps, this time with sunset mood lighting.

Beautiful. I guess the winter does have its good points.

Quoting LXM83 (Reply 14):
Unfortunately no traffic rights. I was hoping they will apply for it as they have done between OTP and BUD (when this route still existed).

Yeah, it's such a shame. I tried as well but absolutely no go.

Happy flying
Infodesk   



"Do nothing in haste, look well to each step and from the beginning think what may be the end" - Edward Whymper
User currently offlineLXM83 From Switzerland, joined May 2005, 607 posts, RR: 5
Reply 20, posted (1 year 10 months 3 weeks 2 days 21 hours ago) and read 4947 times:

Hi, nice to see some more comments.

Quoting deltamartin (Reply 17):
I should really try to log a F70 or F100 before they are gone

Hello deltamartin, yes go for it as long as it's possible!

Quoting adamspotter (Reply 18):
Nice pictures!

Thanks, adamspotter.

Quoting infodesk (Reply 19):
The question is how much longer will it operate

Hi infodesk, that's a question I asked myself too. I hope the load of my flight was not a good representation and their averages are higher.

Quoting infodesk (Reply 19):
Lucky you catching JVH on the return, still missing here.

One of the two recently added ones, it was also missing in my log. Now only JVI to go.

Quoting infodesk (Reply 19):
Very impressive!

Yeah, 51 Fokker 100 flights is quite nice. Much better than the 32S family.

Quoting infodesk (Reply 19):
Anglesey? Never knew they had flights!

Twice daily Mon-Fri, courtesy of the Welsh taxpayer, I presume. A nice way to catch the Do-228.

Quoting infodesk (Reply 19):
I tried as well but absolutely no go.

Yep, at first they had the ZRH-STR-ZRH segment published without traffic restriction and I was already hatching plans to catch it, but they never had fares published and the traffic restriction was there a couple of days later. A pity. The A330 on this route would be great!

Many thanks for reading and best regards, LXM83


User currently offlinePhilInBRN From Switzerland, joined Jun 2009, 243 posts, RR: 0
Reply 21, posted (1 year 10 months 3 weeks 2 days 19 hours ago) and read 4893 times:

Hello LXM83,

Very nice report of this rather strange 2L flight between CWL and BRS. Have always wondered why the route has stuck since loads are always reported to be abysmal. It would probably help to have LX codeshare on the route as they do with Helvetics ZRH-BRI route.

Quoting infodesk (Reply 19):
The whole day on Fokkers, not easy to achieve, well done. Lucky you catching JVH on the return, still missing here.
Quoting LXM83 (Reply 20):
One of the two recently added ones, it was also missing in my log. Now only JVI to go.

You got lucky there indeed. HB-JVH is based in Bern for the entire summer season (as was the case in 2011). The plane has been modified a bit to make it lighter in order to take off on the short runway. I hear the take off in the F100 on the 1700m runway must be as spectacular from the inside as it is from the outside  

cheers, Phil


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